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A 10-acre solar farm has been installed at the Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia. The spread of black panels is easily the largest solar installation in Virginia, and is visible from Chesapeake Bay, installed in a marshy field called “Monkey Bottom” just outside the Naval Base’s fenceline. It’s a big step toward helping Virginia keep up with neighboring states when it comes to expansive solar jobs.
The Norfolk Naval Base is the largest of its kind in the world. The Monkey Bottom solar installation will generate 2.1MW of power, which would be enough for 200 homes. At the base, it will provide about 2 percent of the power usage.
While 2 percent doesn’t sound impressive, solar jobs like Monkey Bottom will help the base source 50 percent of its power from renewables by 2020. Executive orders signed by Presidents Obama and G.W. Bush call for each base to meet these requirements. “You have to start somewhere,” said Michelle Perry, who works at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command as project manager.
The Department of Defense is the biggest consumer of energy in the United States, and the United States is the biggest consumer of energy in the world. The DOD is constantly looking for ways to green up its energy supply, using a government stimulus package for solar jobs and other renewable resources that amounts to $335 million. Monkey Bottom cost $21 million.
Critics say that generating only 2 percent of power for a $21 million installation just isn’t worthwhile, and that the $335 million stimulus package for solar jobs is wasted money. However, that’s less than the budget given to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2011, $430 million was split between networks like NPR, PBS and others.
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